3D printed Hunters Point gantry crane & Sutro Tower

This is the Hunters Point gantry crane in San Francisco. It’s the largest gantry crane in the world and was decommissioned in the early 70s. It’s visible from most of the bay, but most people aren’t aware of its size and don’t notice the 8,400 ton behemoth looming over the water. At 209 feet high, the crane’s runway is a hair shorter than the Golden Gate Bridge’s roadway. The largest cranes in the port of Oakland are only 240 feet high and much smaller in comparison.

The gantry crane is 730 feet long– a bit longer than the AT&T ballpark where the Giants play, or a little more than three 747 aircraft long, if you prefer to measure things in airplanes. It’s taller than the Statue of Liberty and weighs as much as the Eiffel Tower. In short, it’s a very large hunk of metal.

The crane was built in 1947 to swap gun turrets on ships and can lift a million pounds. In 1959 the tower on top was added for Operation Skycatch, a program for testing missiles. Polaris missiles were fired from below and arresting cables strung up through the tower would catch the dummy warheads in flight before lowering them down for testing.

This project began with the goal to design and 3D print a 1:1000 scale model. I’ve since printed models in a variety of sizes and materials, as well as modeling the Sutro Tower in the same manner. Pictured are prints from 3-12 inches, in plastics, steel, nickel plating, brass and bronze.

Printed models are available for purchase through my Shapeways store.

For more information about the crane and for a lot of old photos, hit up hunterspointcrane.com

All content © Copyright 2021 by Jeff Waldman.
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